November 8, 2005

The practise of giving price targets in research reports

I have always wondered why analysts give price targets, when it is extremely difficult to predict the price level of a security, which is dependent on a host of factors with a few of these factors related to the psychology of the market at a future date.

The typical research report ( at least the free ones which I typically read) usually starts off with a very brief background of the industry. It would then discuss the latest results with a brief analysis of the last 2-3 years. The next 2-3 years income statement and balance sheet is projected. The report would typically end with a price target with simplistic analysis which is typically based on the projected EPS and a PE no.

The more rigorous analyst would give his logic for the PE assumed(often  based on the past PE of the company ). Most don’t bother to do even that.

PE as a measure is fairly flawed measure as it does not consider the ROE of the firm, its competitive advantage, impact of industry dynamics etc. At the same time the number used in backward looking (based on past PE, earning etc).I would assume a more rigorous mode of valuation would be based on DCF, with various scenarios being considered and valuation range being arrived at (with degree of confidence for this range).

But then the analyst is giving the consumer (the investor) what he wants – A precise price target (which would be hopefully achieved in the future) , a certainty,  where none exists.

It’s not that all analyst reports are of a poor quality. Some do discuss the industry in depth and attempt to do a more thorough valuation exercise. But most are superficial and not worth reading. I have found the original source of the information – The annual reports, far more useful than the analyst reports and have never made a serious commitment of capital based on an analyst report.

Do we have any good source of analyst reports in India? If you are aware please email me.,

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